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Resting or Resisting?

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, And saw My works for forty years.
Therefore I was angry with this generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; And they did not know My ways; As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest.”

Hebrews 3: 7-11 (NAS)

Do these verses apply to MY life today, to the circumstances that I am walking through this very moment? How am I different from these Israelite children? Does God get provoked with me? Does He get angry with me? Let’s think about these verses.

First of all, I hear His voice. What’s that? I hear Him? Yes. A simple thought comes prompting me to listen, to take a step I hadn’t planned to take-in a different direction perhaps, and I acknowledge that it could be God talking to me. This is different. I don’t usually think this way! It could come via a sermon, a song, a person whose life is a testimony to me, some unexplainable event-a healing or a miraculous escape from harm. It could be a verse from the Bible that touches my heart, a sunset, a storm, a movie, or a tiny, little, yellow buttercup. God says, please don’t put Me in a box. (Brother Lawrence’s1 life was dramatically changed as he looked at a dry and leafless tree in midwinter and realized the miraculous change that would take place in the spring.) But I could harden my heart to His voice. I might refuse to acknowledge this stirring inside of me through whatever avenue it came. I may not listen or I may procrastinate. I could shrug it off, I could react in anger, doubting, with reservations, or unbelief-and the stirring begins to wane. Then with relief I think, “Not interested. Some other time maybe.”

This provokes God. Provoke means to excite to some action or feeling; to anger or irritate; to stir up action or feeling. God takes note of my refusal and He doesn’t like it.

To test God means to question His authenticity, His motive, to doubt His love or disregard the evidence of His being a part of my life in years past. After seeing God’s works for forty years, after being miraculously delivered, fed, clothed, and cared for, these Israelites still tested God, they questioned His plan, His being involved in their lives. I, like the Israelites, have witnessed the works of God in my own life and in the lives of others. Do the thoughts that come to me accuse Him of not caring for me, of not understanding, of “picking on me?”

How did the Israelites test Him? How do I test Him?

By doubting:

His power
His love
His sovereignty
His integrity
His ability to care for me
His wisdom…

and all of these things manifest UNBELIEF.

When I do these things, God becomes angry. Yes, God took out all of His wrath for us on His Son at the cross. I agree. So what does it mean that God became angry? He evaluates what has been done and makes this decision: I must discipline these people. Then God announced the discipline: They shall not enter My rest. His “rest” could not have been freedom from trials, for there were to be many very difficult trials ahead for them in the Promised Land. No, the “rest” was believing in Him, trusting Him, resting in His power and presence, allowing Him to be their strength, their wisdom, their burden-bearer.

He wants the same for me. He wants me to walk in His provision, His plan, His love, and when I do not, He is disappointed. Without realizing it, I have rejected Him. I have rejected His wonderful gifts. I have said, “No, thanks! I can handle this myself!” I have hurt Him and blocked Him from caring for me. His assessment might be that I went astray in my heart. What does that mean? That I wander away from Him in my thought-life, I become lax in my devotion to and for Him, my interaction with people around me does not glorify God, I am not “single-minded” in my commitment to Him, I compromise my standards.

So what does this mean to me today?

That I should learn from their mistakes. They were written down for my example so that I would not take the same route they followed. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction (1Cor.10:11).
That I should focus on these things and make them a part of my everyday life. That as a result, I am no longer a child, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14)… but that I should cling tenaciously to what I have come to KNOW about the God-man, Jesus Christ.

* * * * *

God, I’m tired-tired of running to and fro, tired of being harried and frustrated, tired of being defeated and hostile, tired of being pressured and short-tempered, tired of looking for praise and acceptance from the people in my world. I’m tired of doing things MY way. I want to do them YOUR way. I need to rest so badly. I want to enter into the rest that You provide for me, moment by moment. I realize that it is a “rest” within me-not release from the pressures or my circumstances. Please show me, be patient with me. I long to please You. I know You understand.

1 Brother Lawrence: The Practice of the Presence of God

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.